Bachelor of Sustainability and Outdoor Education Bachelor of Sustainability and Outdoor Education

A-Z study guide
A photo of two people walking around a lake.

DegreeFull-time, 3 years | Part-time up to 6 years

Programme code



February, July





Domestic Applications due

Received all year

International Applications due

6 January for February start; 2 June for July start


Christchurch - Madras Street

Annual Fees(indictive 2020)


$8,150 - $8,800



Course related costs

Advised before enrolment

About this programme

Develop and share your passion for health and wellbeing, sustainability, outdoor education and New Zealand's geography.

This degree provides a unique combination of theory and practice to produce high quality graduates with a sound understanding of contemporary social and cultural issues, geography and sustainability, and proven capability in outdoor education. It is a broad degree that allows students opportunities to tailor their learning to meet the needs of a variety of career aspirations.

During your studies, you will engage with the natural landscape to develop an in-depth understanding of sustainability, and what it means to our society now and for the future. You will explore flora and fauna, and consider social geography with the human influences and impacts on our environment including how decisions on land use are made.

You will also develop the personal skills and learn effective methods for teaching, guiding and helping other people to engage with and respect our spectacular outdoor settings and instruct activities within it.

Essential studies include health and physical education, geography, environmental science, professional practices, leadership and safety. These are mixed with elective courses to foster your personal strengths and interests in adventure pursuits like rock climbing and ropes courses, white water and sea kayaking, surfing and winter back country touring.

In addition to your degree you can further enhance employment opportunities by gaining at least two industry awards such as New Zealand Outdoor Instructors Association Leader Award, Surf Lifesaving New Zealand Award, Wilderness Advanced First Aid Award and Avalanche Awareness Award.

You will need to participate in field trips off campus and outside Christchurch. Specialist equipment is provided, however personal clothing and equipment are necessary - a list will be provided for you on request.

Please check with programme leader for course availability.

In our most recent graduate survey, 80% of 2016 Bachelor of Sustainability and Outdoor Education graduates were in employment (Ara Graduate Outcome Survey, 2016).

Career opportunities

On successful completion of this degree you can seek work as an environmental educator, outdoor instructor, adventure or ecotourism guide, or take your skills into community health, recreation or conservation.

Study pathways

You can continue your studies and enter graduate teacher training, specialising in social studies, health and outdoor education. You can also continue on to Masters study.

Recommended school subjects

  • English
  • Mathematics
  • Physical Education
  • Biology
  • Geography
  • Social Studies

Programme structure

To complete this Degree you are required to complete 360 credits. Please browse the guide below to view the course options currently available within this qualification.

Core courses
Elective Courses

To be a full time student you need to maintain a workload of 120 credits per year. We recommend you talk with us to ensure you choose electives to benefit your future career.

Entry requirements

Academic requirements
  • NCEA Level 3 (60 credits at Level 3 and 20 credits at Level 2 or higher) which must include 14 credits at Level 3 in each of three approved* subjects and

    • Literacy* - 10 credits at Level 2 or above, made up of 5 credits in reading, 5 credits in writing and
    • Numeracy* - 10 credits at Level 1 or above (specified achievement standards, or unit standards 26623, 26626, 26627)


    • New Zealand Certificate in Outdoor and Adventure Education (Multi-skilled) (Level 4) or equivalent


    • New Zealand Certificate in Study and Career Preparation (Level 4) Ara Outdoor Education Pathway, or equivalent.

    If you have undertaken examinations other than NCEA (e.g. International Baccalaureate, Cambridge Examination), Ara will assess your qualification for academic entry equivalency.

    * NZQA approved subjects: see

Alternative requirements
  • Still want to study but don't meet the Academic Requirements?

    If you show that you have equivalent skills for tertiary study gained through study, work and/or life experience, you may be able to gain alternative entry.

    Note: The number of courses you have to complete for this qualification may be reduced where you have relevant credits from previous study, or evidence of similar learning or experience in the workplace. Contact Ara for advice.

Additional requirements
  • A current first aid certificate (Red Cross Comprehensive or St John's Workplace) which is current at the time the programme starts.
  • Consent to Disclosure of Information
    You will be required to complete a New Zealand Police Consent to Disclosure of Information form depending on your placement. The form will be sent to the Police Licensing and Vetting Service, and returned in confidence to the Head of School. Information on the NZ Police Vetting Service is available from the New Zealand Police website.

English requirements
  • What if English is not my first language?

    If English is not your first language, we want to make sure that you will be successful in your chosen programme of study.

    Please provide a result from a test or qualification on the acceptable alternatives English Proficiency Outcomes Chart.


    • If you are a New Zealand Citizen or Permanent Resident, complete an Admission and Enrolment form and Ara will contact you regarding a free assessment.
    • If you are not a New Zealand Citizen or Permanent resident, book an IELTS or other test through the Ara Examination Centre or in your home country.

    IELTS scores used must be taken from a single IELTS Test Report Form and are valid for two years from the date of the test.

    What if I have achieved NCEA Level 3 University Entrance?

    You do not need to provide additional evidence of English Language skills.










Acceptable Alternatives Chart

Next steps

To apply for this programme please:

  • complete an application form or an international application form
  • complete an sustainability and outdoor education application pack
  • provide a log of outdoor recreational activity within the last five years.

If you don't meet the criteria for entry into this programme, we can help you meet entry level with our foundation and bridging programmes.

Alternatively, if you feel you have gained your learning through on the job experience talk to us about recognition or assessment of prior learning .

Application documents

Credit recognition

If you have work experience in this area, or a relevant prior qualification, you may be eligible for credit recognition towards this qualification.